Working cooperatively with Alaska State Parks, we have negotiated a final concession contract that will allow the Anchorage Ski Club to continue to operate Arctic Valley Ski Area. This concession contract gives us the certainty we need to get financing, large-scale fundraising, and donations to make major improvements to the ski area while increasing recreational opportunities at Arctic Valley.
This contract increases planning and reporting requirements to State Parks and ties our annual fee to our income. We believe it’s a fair agreement that protects the interests of ASC and the State. We will pay a percentage of our ski area income to the State, but up to 50% can be offset by maintenance and improvements such as plowing the road and public parking lot, trail maintenance, and other approved capital projects. We are also required to submit summer and winter operations plans, and will generally have more oversight from Alaska State Parks. None of this will affect our current operations, and State Parks has been a great partner and supportive of the plans we’ve outlined to expand our services.
The concession contract has been approved by the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, and ASC’s Board of Directors. Unfortunately, a small group of people requested reconsideration of DNR’s final decision to award the concession contract; however, DNR immediately denied their petition. Although we reached out to the petitioners and attempted to address their concerns, they continue to pursue their own agenda. This group has indicated their intent to sue DNR to force a delay in the concession contract. Any delay will, of course, prevent us from securing funding to make improvements at Arctic Valley – we’ve been working on snowmaking, lift, and lodge upgrade options, none of which are viable without the long-term certainty the concession contract provides.
This group of petitioners claims that at a minimum, DNR must conduct a site-specific planning process for Arctic Valley beyond the recent 2016 Chugach State Park Management Plan. And preferably, they are seeking a master land use planning process that includes BLM, DOD, and DNR lands, extending from South Fork of Eagle River all the way to Ship Creek. Unfortunately, this would be a very time-consuming endeavor that will delay the concession contract and could ultimately jeopardize the contract itself. As an alternative to this, we proposed working cooperatively with the petitioners and a professional consultant to create a strategic plan that would also incorporate additional public input. They summarily rejected this proposal. In short, this group is set on a course that would hinder if not prevent our continued operation of Arctic Valley Ski Area. On Wednesday, March 11 this group filed a lawsuit against the Department of Natural Resources, protesting the award of our concession contract. They also asked for a stay, which if granted will immediately delay the concession process.
It is important to note that none of the people opposing this concession contract are members of ASC, have been connected to, or supported Arctic Valley in the past 10 years. They have never communicated their agendas or vision for Arctic Valley to ASC in any manner, nor were they aware of the amazing progress we’ve made in the last 10 years – in lift reliability and safety, grooming, the tube park, snowmaking, lodge upgrades, the youth ski racing team, and so much more.
If you would like to review the suit’s documents, they can be viewed here, here, and here. If you know any of the litigants referenced in these documents and would like to contact them about their obstruction, we would encourage that.